Monday, December 16, 2013

Two ships that pass the night


We are anchored in the Wadmalaw River, off Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina (map).  We are just a mile or two from where we jettisoned our anchor back in April, and a mile south of where our friends Pauline and Rod also spent the night on their Nova Scotia 47, Two by Two.

We had hoped to join them anchored up Toogoodoo Creek, but we had something of a late arrival.  Even though we hit Elliot Cut ahead of schedule (and thus against more current than I had hoped), we had very slow going because the vagaries of the tides here in the low country meant we chased low tide all the up the Stono.

We saw very little traffic, but at one point while we were in a very narrow section of the channel, at dead low tide, we encountered the towboat Royal Engineer pushing a large barge with some sort of  enormous turbine or similar component on it.  We were both approaching a curve from opposite directions and I hailed him on 13 to arrange passing of his choice.

To my surprise he requested one whistle, which put us on the outside of the curve.  Before we even reached him, though, he called us back to say he was aground and we should try to stop.  Unsurprisingly, the bow of the barge had grounded on the outside of the curve, so we passed on the other side, making it two whistles.  We radioed back that we saw 14.5' off his starboard side, even though he had suggested we come around to his port even after he was aground, a suggestion we politely declined.

When we passed him he was still trying to power through, and I had to wrestle the helm through his heavy prop wash.  A short while later we saw on the AIS that he had started astern, presumably to try again a bit more to the inside.  He dropped off our screen a few minutes later, and that was the last we knew, until we heard a sport fish hailing him on 13 ten minutes later to ask if he was aground.  The response was that "I'm just resting," which cracked us up.

What cracked us up further was the sport fish asking if he should come around to port, and the towboat answering with the suggestion of starboard instead.  We knew the tug and barge would be free in an hour's time, when the tide came in, so no big deal, but I felt bad for the skipper.  It does put our own draft issues in perspective, seeing these large tows negotiating the same twists and turns as us, but with 9' draft and no thruster.  The experience and capabilities of these skippers is something to behold.

Picking our way through the shallows ate up enough of the day that we started looking for a place to anchor as soon as we hit Wadmalaw Sound.  Church Creek already had three boats in it, and everything between there and here is very deep -- great for running at full speed, but no so good for anchoring in 3 knots of current.  We ended up dropping the hook just before sunset, in sight of (but still a half hour from) our friends.

This morning they motored by us on their way out, and we had a short meet-up "rail to rail" for a few minutes before they continued south on the ICW.  We'll be taking the outside route, but we are both making for Florida, so we may yet see them again.

In a moment we will weigh anchor, to catch the last of the ebb down to Bohicket Creek, where we will anchor overnight for an quick exit to sea in the morning.  We have to cross a 10' bar, and then it should be smooth running all the way to Port Royal Sound and Hilton Head Island.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!